The Berlin wall was built on August 13th 1961. It was 96 miles long and surrounded East berlin. In 1949 and 1961 about 2 million East Germans fled from East to West Germany. By August 1961, an average of 2,000 East Germans were crossing into the West every day. Many of them were skilled and their loss was having a devastating effect on the East German economy. To halt the people escaping to the West, Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev recommended to East Germany that it close off access between East and West Berlin. So overnight on August 13th they surrounded East Berlin with a barbed wire wall.